Along with the nip in the air that makes us snuggle, there’s a slew of unique sweet treats that you can indulge in this season. Move over gajar ka halwa, gajjak or til ke ladoo. How about tickling your sweet tooth with scrumptious sweetmeats to enjoy the celebratory spirit from across India?
Shor Bhaja, a traditional Bengali sweet dish, is as much shor as it is of kheer. Originating from Krishnanagar in West Bengal, this delicacy is made of milk cream, sugar and ghee. Legend has it that Surukumar Das, the creator of this cult sweet, would make them at night and sell it in the morning. To make shor bhaja, a layer of dried shor (milk fat) is taken and kheer is smeared on it. The process is repeated for three to four layers. After these stacked layers are dried, they are deep-fried in glee and finally dunked in sugar syrup.
Winters for Bongs are incomplete without pitheys. It’s the season of nolen gur (date palm jaggery), which is best used to make an array of sweets. Pithey is a quintessential winter treat of Bengal (made during Poush Sankranti) prepared in most Bengali households to celebrate the fresh winter harvest. Savoury or sweet, these crepes are made with rice flour and filled with kheer, grated coconut and nolen gur tapped from date palm. There are several flavours – nakshi pithey, ground rice confection with intricate floral design; chushi pithey, rice pudding with tiny rice paste dumplings cooked in gur-infused milk; and deep-fried golap pithey shaped to resemble roses (golap).
This Parsi brown fudge is made during winters using ghee, an assortment of dry fruits mixed with soonth (dry ginger), lotus stem, wheat flour and dill. Vasanu is well-known for its health benefits as it fortifies the immune system. Each Parsi kitchen has its favourite version of Vasanu – some made with dry fruits and others by adding more dry ginger.
This one’s a seasonal staple in Punjab made from whole-wheat flour and fried in ghee. It is packed with dried fruits, nuts and sometimes edible gum or gond. This high-calorie sweet snack has loads of health benefits because of the nuts and fibres present in it. It lowers cholesterol, improves memory and boosts immunity. Traditionally, Punjab being an agrarian state, the farmers who toiled for long hours in the field needed energy-boosting foods. Made mostly in homes, each household has a customized Panjiri recipe passed down from one generation to another.
What’s your favourite winter mithai? Share your comments with readers below.